The act of using automobiles in art installations is fundamentally transformative. No longer are the automobiles used in art installations just more cars swarming the streets; instead, by taking them off the street, the artists creating these installations are stripping them of their original, intended function, and asking the audience to reconsider some aspect or context of the chosen automobile.
Whatever your opinion of automobiles used in art installations, whether you even agree that they qualify as art, they’re spectacles, for sure. Spectacles that attract a good deal of attention. Dustin Shuler’s “Spindle,” installed in 1989 in Cermak Plaza in Berwyn, Illinois, impaled eight cars on a spike and later had a cameo in Wayne’s World. The Ant Farm’s “Cadillac Ranch,” installed in 1974 outside of Amarillo, Texas, buried 10 cars in the dirt and has beckoned roadtrippes, taggers, and the curious alike ever since.
We’ve covered a good deal of such art installations over the years – everything from Lili Lakich and Juan Larios’s “Body Heat — Crashing the Modern” to Wolf Vostell’s “Concrete Traffic” to Arman’s “Long Term Parking,” to name a few – but there’s likely many more we haven’t touched on, so let’s see if we can crowdsource a list of art installations and sculptures using automobiles, maybe even whip up a custom Google Map to see which ones are closest to you.
We’ll need, of course, some criteria. To begin with, the installation or sculpture must have been constructed with at least one formerly driveable automobile, so no scale models, no wireframes, and no representations of automobiles in unusual media (the latter could be an entire list unto itself). Second, the automobile must have been somehow altered, so no museum exhibits of beautiful running and driving cars presented entirely for their aesthetic or engineering value. Third, enough of the car should be present to at least make it recognizable as an automobile, so no individual car parts. Fourth, art cars are super close to this genre, but as long as they remain movable under their own power, they’re not really considered installations. Also, technically cars on poles meet the criteria set out for art installations, but we’ve already covered any car transformed into a commercial rather than an artistic use.
If you can, provide the artist’s name, title of the installation/sculpture, current and/or former locations, and installation date. Whaddaya got?